Family Friendly in Fairfield County
December 8, 2020
Text by Marni Elyse Katz Photography by Jane Beiles
After relocating from a modestly sized terraced Victorian on the outskirts of London to a five-bedroom home in Fairfield County, one freshly minted East Coast family arrived at their new home with few worldly possessions. Over time, interior designer Fiona Leonard helped them transform it into a comfortable home with furnishings that can withstand life with four kids and artwork that infuses personality and meaning.
Leonard’s clientele routinely lists durable materials and rounded corners as priorities, but not everyone wants to incorporate art into their homes. “Young couples tend to put family photos everywhere,” the designer says. “[This particular couple has] a nice assortment of original paintings and photos, vintage posters, and prints.”
Phase one was about acquiring the basics. A hand-knotted wool rug set the stage in the family room for an indestructible ottoman and sofas that Leonard pulled away from the wall to create paths for little people to run around. The photograph of English bathing huts, a later addition, makes the mantel feel more integrated with the chimney and reminds the homeowners of a cherished holiday. “It gives the room’s coastal feel an English spin and is very calming because it triggers memories of home,” the husband says.
The adjoining eat-in kitchen, which Leonard freshened with dust-camouflaging seeded-glass pendants and peppy geometric window treatments, boasts newly framed photographs of London landmarks hung gallery style opposite the breakfast table. The images were table markers at the couple’s wedding and as such invoke demands for stories from the kids. “Fiona taught us that art should be personal,” the husband says.
Leonard leaned into abstracts for adult-oriented areas. While performance fabrics ensure that the living room is not off-limits, black-and-white prints and a painting by a local artist imbue the room with sophistication. She followed a similar formula in the couple’s bedroom suite, where an abstract canvas in the sitting area coaxes blush tones from the hand-pressed botanical prints above the bed. “Clients have design fatigue by the time they get to their own room,” Leonard says. “We chose neutral furnishings that didn’t dictate a direction, then added pieces with color and character later.”
Pleas for pink and purple drove the schemes in the older girls’ rooms, though a few years in, the eldest is on to turquoise. The couple, who have started browsing for art on their own, recently hung a vibrant abstract scored at a charity auction in her bedroom; the piece introduces new hues without the application of a fresh coat of paint.
Having assembled the goods needed for a well-functioning household, collecting art has reinforced the idea of home, past and present. Art not only instills a sense of place but sets the tone. “We’ve learned that art is about the emotions it evokes,” the wife says. “It helps us achieve comfort for our family.”
Interior design: Fiona Leonard, Fiona Leonard Interiors